Vanderbilt Head Coach Contemplates Play Calling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is
fighting the temptation to call the plays for his offense.
Coordinator John Donovan will handle that job for now.

"I'm not sure that will go the entire season," Franklin said
Monday. "We'll see."

That's because calling plays previously was a routine part of
Franklin's job. He was offensive coordinator at Kansas State in
2006 and 2007 before returning to Maryland as assistant head coach
and offensive coordinator.

When Franklin was hired as the new coach at Vanderbilt in
December, Donovan replaced him and called the plays in Maryland's
51-20 win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl.

Vanderbilt's new coach said he's been impressed with the way
Donovan has prepared Commodores for the season. But with the opener Saturday night against Elon, they didn't discuss exactly who would be calling plays until earlier this week.

"That does not mean I won't call plays during the game and I
haven't been involved in the entire game plan," Franklin said.

The new coach said he knows he needs to be the CEO in charge of
everything, so not calling each offensive play was the best
decision.

"I have some good friends in the business. I've asked their
opinions as well. Some head coaches are calling the plays on
offense or defense. Some haven't," he said. "Every decision we
make is very, very well thought out and planned."

That includes naming senior Larry Smith as the starting
quarterback. Smith has been working with the first-team offense
since fall practice started and was listed first on unofficial
depth charts. But Franklin had not named a starter until Monday,
with the first official two-deep chart.

Smith benefited from being able to work with the offense during
the spring, Franklin said. Jordan Rodgers, the backup, was limited
as he returned from surgery on his right shoulder on his throwing
arm. Josh Grady is the third quarterback.

"I've coached in the NFL," Franklin said. I've seen what NFL
teams have drafted. There's a lot of teams that would love to have
a quarterback like Larry Smith in terms of physical skills."

Franklin said quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne and John Donovan
have done a great job of developing Smith.

Smith has started the past two seasons when Vanderbilt went 2-10
in 2009 under coach Bobby Johnson and 2010 under coach Robbie
Caldwell. Smith was 117 of 247 for 1,262 yards with six touchdowns
and five interceptions in 2010 as he completed 47.4 percent of his
passes. He also ran 105 times for 248 yards and four TDs.

Under Franklin, the Commodores will be using a multiple offense
trying to improve on a unit that ranked 110th among FBS schools
averaging 298.3 yards of total offense in 2010. Vandy ranked 11th
in scoring offense with just 16.9 points per game.

Smith thinks he can improve with the new coaching staff.

"This is the most I've learned this offseason just getting a
better understanding of the game of football and being a better
student of the game and just real excited, eager to go out there
and play for this coaching staff," Smith said.
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(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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